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All my atheist morals

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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Generally my response is "this is why I used the word generalized". All the examples you cited are representative of a serious minority of the population. Unless on the whole you think people think suffering is good etc.?
    Qingu wrote:
    A good point, but not entirely accurately stated. People into S&M aren't suffering in the same sense that people who we would say are genuinely suffering are. One of the important things a maker of BDSM stuff once said was that while yes you want to torture/inflict some degree of pain, you only want to do it in a very specific way at a specific level, under specific circumstances.
    What about ascetics? People who believe physical reality is evil and try to strip it away by starving and beating themselves? (Usually religious, I know, so maybe not appropriate for this discussion.)

    What about sadists? People who enjoy torturing other people? They certainly would not agree with your axiom that suffering is always wrong. What authority would you appeal to to convince a sadist that he is wrong to torture people?
    Sadists enjoy torturing others, there's nothing specific about whether they would enjoy it much themselves. You can, conceptually, reason them in their choice and point out that there desires aren't general, but it probably wouldn't work for the same reason we use the overall drives of humanity as a moral basis - they're difficult to avoid. I have no doubt that their are sadists who don't actually act on their desires because they can reason around that however.
    Qingu wrote:
    This I agree with. I think we can do better then to declare things axiomatic somewhat arbitrarily. We can take generalized human desires as axiomatic - people don't want do die, people don't want to suffer, the same can be applied at differing degrees to other animals etc.
    Suicidal people want to die. Ascetics want to suffer, sadists want to inflict suffering.
    Of those, what's wrong with Ascetics wanting to suffer, except for the fact that frequently it's likely they would not normally have developed that way and are instead reacting to some type of formative stage emotional trauma? We don't talk people out of suicide because that's inherently wrong, we talk them out of it because they are usually reacting to conditions that treatable and cureable - and the desire to kill themselves will turn out to be a completely transient state that for the bulk of their lives they would not want.
    Qingu wrote:
    I don't think there's a single moral stance that is universally held by every human being. And since we're atheists, we know there's no superhuman authority we can appeal to to judge or condemn those who disagree with our supposed moral "axioms." It eventually boils down to a question of force: will you use your power to prevent a sadist from torturing you? Will you use your power to prevent a loved one from committing suicide?
    The answer is yes, obviously, but that's because you've missed my point that generally the human race is not like this, otherwise we would've have self-flagellated ourselves out of existence a long time ago.

    electricitylikesme on
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    DynagripDynagrip Break me a million hearts HoustonRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    I think the serious question is whether or not it's ok to intervene with another life(irregardless of how insignificant), what would/could justify doing so, and finally how would we (as atheists) would come to this conclusion.
    I try to at least 10-15 times a day. Not always in a positive manner, but oh God, do I intervene.

    Dynagrip on
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    templewulftemplewulf The Team Chump USARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Qingu wrote:
    Maybe I should read Rawls instead of a likely poorly written Wikipedia entry, but it sounds like the Original Position is predicated on representational democracy/republicanism? Or am I not understanding this correctly?
    I don't know of anywhere else on the Intertron to read about it, but in A Theory of Justice, Rawls uses it as a thought experiment to help figure out the most equitable arrangement of laws and resources.

    Think of it this way: the original position is behind the veil of ignorance. You could consider yourself a soul pre-birth. Now, as a soul behind "the veil", you don't know where you will be born, or what circumstances you will encounter. How do you arrange the world?
    Fuck meta. I believe in science!
    I said Meta-ethics, not meta-physics. :lol:

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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    templewulf wrote:
    The difference is that I know the names of the concepts I'm being wishy-washy about.
    And that makes you cool. Seriously.

    The main problem I've had with Rawls is his insistence on always benefitting the worst-off. I'm perfectly happy to ensure that his primary goods are distributed such that every person is given at least the goods which, if they were not given, would lead to an unbearable standard of living. I'm much less enthusiastic about the possibility of giving up significant benefits to minimally raise the standard of someone else's life.

    It's been a while since I read A Theory of Justice, but I seem to remember that Rawls held that any additional goods beyond the minimums would be relatively inconsequential. As such, it would stand to reason that a lot of goods beyond the minimum would be required to achieve any appreciable benefit. If that's the case, it seems that we should do our best to ensure that as many people as possible have as many goods as possible, even if it means that some will have to do with the bare minimums. It's not like that minimums are even that bad anyway.

    When it comes to non-utilitarian theories, I'm more a fan of Scanlon.

    As far as repositories of philosophical information are concerned, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is the best one I know of.

    The Original Position

    Grid System on
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    TroubledTomTroubledTom regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.

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    templewulftemplewulf The Team Chump USARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    templewulf wrote:
    The difference is that I know the names of the concepts I'm being wishy-washy about.
    And that makes you cool. Seriously.
    Why, because I'm honest in my wishy-washiness?
    The main problem I've had with Rawls is his insistence on always benefitting the worst-off.
    Wouldn't it be better for a homeless man to have some top ramen tonight than for a rich person to have an even bigger steak?
    If that's the case, it seems that we should do our best to ensure that as many people as possible have as many goods as possible, even if it means that some will have to do with the bare minimums. It's not like that minimums are even that bad anyway.
    This quote is relevant to the previous, because the former is what Rawls believed was necessary to achieve the latter.

    There's a graph that illustrates the ways in which he believed society was organized under various economic types. I can't google it up, so I'll draw it and post it in a bit.
    When it comes to non-utilitarian theories, I'm more a fan of Scanlon.
    T.M. Scanlon? I thought he was just a mathematician. Or do you mean someone else?

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    Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.
    Rawls is not at all similar to utilitarianism. His theory is also considrably more limited, being concerned solely with issues of distributive justice. Scanlon, too, is not utilitarian. His theory - What We Owe to Each Other - is somewhat broader than Rawls's, but also doesn't claim the same scope as utilitarianism.

    Stepping away from the consequentialist/deontological divide, there are two other theoretical perspectives available in virtue ethics (based on Aristotle) and ethics of care (which is primarily feminist). I don't know much about them though.
    templewulf wrote:
    templewulf wrote:
    The difference is that I know the names of the concepts I'm being wishy-washy about.
    And that makes you cool. Seriously.
    Why, because I'm honest in my wishy-washiness?
    I just like the jargon, and people who use it. :)

    As far as the ramen vs. bigger steak is concerned, I'd change the example so it's ramen or caviar (or some other exotic delicacy) instead of a mundane steak, in which case, yeah, I'd side with the rich guy. As long as everyone's needs are being met, I see no reason to deprive people of the chance to really get the most out of their lives. Even if only a few people will reach that level.

    Grid System on
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    templewulftemplewulf The Team Chump USARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Rawls is not at all similar to utilitarianism. His theory is also considrably more limited, being concerned solely with issues of distributive justice. Scanlon, too, is not utilitarian. His theory - What We Owe to Each Other - is somewhat broader than Rawls's, but also doesn't claim the same scope as utilitarianism.

    Stepping away from the consequentialist/deontological divide, there are two other theoretical perspectives available in virtue ethics (based on Aristotle) and ethics of care (which is primarily feminist). I don't know much about them though.
    Aristotelian (is that the correct adjectification?) virtue ethics are good to know, but not very helpful. They're essentially a collection of tautologies. He believed that vices came in pairs of excess and deficiency (anger and apathy, for instance), while virtue was between them (indignation is the correct response between anger and apathy).

    While this is a good philosophy to practice, it doesn't amount to much more than "act with temperance" and "the correct response is to respond correctly". The thing I like about Aristotle, though, is his meta-ethics. He talked a lot about what "good" and "right" meant, and how that figures into ethical philosophies.

    I've heard of the other one, but I don't know anything about it.

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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Sentience is inexorably tied to suffering and happiness, though. It's not like saying "Suffering and happiness!" is a definitive answer. What qualifies as suffering? Does a rock suffer when I kick it? Does a human? Why one and not the other? The answer is that one possesses more "sentience" than the other.
    You're going about it backwards. Discussing sentience is moot. Either something suffers or experiences pleasure, or it does not. Inasmuch as we are capable of knowing - a rock doesn't and a human does a lot. A dog does to some extent, closer to human than rock. A cockroach does, too, but closer to a rock. An AI might be able to discuss politics, but if it has no ability to be happy or sad, or no particular ability to cause happiness or sadness in others, then there is no morality. In other words, you're defining sentience in terms of the ability to experience pleasure and pain, which is great, and makes sentience moot, because I already said it was about happiness and sorrow.
    Qingu wrote:
    What if suffering makes you happy? A la S&M?
    Impossible. The sexual/psychological pleasure outweighs the physical pain. Hence, happy. Suffering and happiness are mutually exclusive, there is no "both."
    Qingu wrote:
    And the problem with axioms is that by definition, nothing justifies an axiom. If I don't think your axiom of morality is self-evident, why should I be beholden to it?
    And also by defintion, the axioms can't be broken down any further into less complex notions that are nevertheless still consistent with the system. A la me breaking down Jeff's "sentience" back into just happiness and suffering. That's what we're getting at here - what's the simplest concept we can possibly break down "morality" into such that we all still generally agree that it is what comprises anything we think of as moral or immoral.

    Philosophers figured that out a long time ago. Suffering is bad, happiness is good. That is the simplest moral axiom.

    If you're looking for something empirical, like a magic rock buried somewhere that has the official(TM) rules of life, then good luck.

    Yar on
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    taliosfalcontaliosfalcon Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.

    if your only ethical because of your religion, your just blindly following someone elses ethical code for fear of being punished, or out of want to fit in. Doesn't that make religious ethics the most utilitarian of all?
    edit: i guess i'm just trying to say i personally believe that if you don't come up with your own ethics yourself, you effectively have none

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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Rawls is a good read, and his take on distributive justice is rock solid, but what is the benefit of debating what sort of justice we should adopt if we haven't yet settled on what the goals of the moral system are? Justice advances some moral goals (individual empowerment) and retards others (utility). Shouldn't we settle on where we're headed before we start walking?

    That said, I think Yar has a great lead in on what one solid moral goal is, goodness. A stab at being specific - "goodness" is an internal, subjective state that a being approves of experiencing. The last bit is vague, and opens me up to the usual criticisms of hedonism, but...it's a start.

    Unpack it: the core of this definition implies that goodness only matters to things that can approve, which requires some sort of intelligence. The moral system doesn't strive to care about rocks, trees, so on, but does strive to recognize the desires of humans, and perhaps the instinctual drives of non-sentient animals. Also, the S/M objection and its kin are answered, because a masochist approves of their (sexual) pain and would consider it goodness.

    One goal, then, is to get as many intelligent things feeling the way that they want to as possible. There may be more, but I think this one could be pretty useful.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.

    if your only ethical because of your religion, your just blindly following someone elses ethical code for fear of being punished, or out of want to fit in. Doesn't that make religious ethics the most utilitarian of all?
    edit: i guess i'm just trying to say i personally believe that if you don't come up with your own ethics yourself, you effectively have none

    No. Utilitarianism is about maximizing global utility, and following a divine command theory of morality is about doing what you're told. DCTheorists make poor utilitarians because they do what they're told regardless of the outcome. Let's please agree not expand on this any more, because the thread was already vulnerable to becoming another religion thread and DCTheory is not useful at all to an atheist moral system.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    taliosfalcontaliosfalcon Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.

    if your only ethical because of your religion, your just blindly following someone elses ethical code for fear of being punished, or out of want to fit in. Doesn't that make religious ethics the most utilitarian of all?
    edit: i guess i'm just trying to say i personally believe that if you don't come up with your own ethics yourself, you effectively have none

    No. Utilitarianism is about maximizing global utility, and following a divine command theory of morality is about doing what you're told. DCTheorists make poor utilitarians because they do what they're told regardless of the outcome. Let's please agree not expand on this any more, because the thread was already vulnerable to becoming another religion thread and DCTheory is not useful at all to an atheist moral system.
    theres actually quite a large difference between the definition of utilitarian(having a useful function), which he said, and utilitarianism, although it is quite possible he meant it in the utilitarianism sense.

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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    In context, should an atheist really be troubled about the claim that atheist ethical theories are useful, and therefore consider diverging themself from atheism in order to pursue non-useful ethical theories?

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    DynagripDynagrip Break me a million hearts HoustonRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...

    Dynagrip on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Dynagrip wrote:
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...
    Agreed. This new breed of atheist dickwad really makes me want to find religion.

    Yar on
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    corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'm an atheist. I haven't killed any babies yet.

    Morals come from society, not religion.

    corcorigan on
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    DynagripDynagrip Break me a million hearts HoustonRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    Dynagrip wrote:
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...
    Agreed. This new breed of atheist dickwad really makes me want to find religion.
    I mean, I've had a moral code for so very long, but this whole bullshit about, "well, if I don't believe in a soul, then killing a baby to get the new Naruto manga cannot be wrong..."

    I am totally serious about giving my Catholic Roots an examining. I'm not sure how I ended up Catholic, but my family has always been Catholic so...though my bro is basically switching to Methodist.

    Dynagrip on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Sentience is inexorably tied to suffering and happiness, though. It's not like saying "Suffering and happiness!" is a definitive answer. What qualifies as suffering? Does a rock suffer when I kick it? Does a human? Why one and not the other? The answer is that one possesses more "sentience" than the other.
    You're going about it backwards. Discussing sentience is moot. Either something suffers or experiences pleasure, or it does not. Inasmuch as we are capable of knowing - a rock doesn't and a human does a lot. A dog does to some extent, closer to human than rock. A cockroach does, too, but closer to a rock. An AI might be able to discuss politics, but if it has no ability to be happy or sad, or no particular ability to cause happiness or sadness in others, then there is no morality. In other words, you're defining sentience in terms of the ability to experience pleasure and pain, which is great, and makes sentience moot, because I already said it was about happiness and sorrow.

    this works for me. when i mentioned sentience/cognizance earlier, it was a reference to whether something is capable of suffering or happiness or not. sentience is essentially the binary quality that indicates whether we have moral obligations towards something or not. once you're discussing suffering/happiness, the question of sentience has already been resolved.

    Loren Michael on
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    DiscGraceDiscGrace Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Dynagrip wrote:
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...
    O RLY

    Kindly return that box of atheist cookies then, they are probably far too obnoxious to eat!

    DiscGrace on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    In context, should an atheist really be troubled about the claim that atheist ethical theories are useful, and therefore consider diverging themself from atheism in order to pursue non-useful ethical theories?
    Dynagrip wrote:
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...

    I think I just unintentionally trolled. I was substituting taliosfalcon's definition into TroubledTom's statement to evaluate taliosfalcon's interpretation of it. I did not make an actual claim regarding non-atheist ethical theories. Sorry for any confusion.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    What I want to know is, do athiests have anything besides utilitarian ethics? Does Rawls provide something qualitatively different? I like them in many ways, but they seem potentially pretty blindly majoritarian and ableist. This has caused me to reconsider my atheism.

    Atheism does not force a moral code on you. If you consider one moral system to be fairer and it seems better to you, adopt it.
    Yar wrote:
    Agreed. This new breed of atheist dickwad really makes me want to find religion.

    They're dicks because they say that religion is wrong and harmful, so therefore you should find religion? Is this like the teen smoking argument or something?

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    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Qingu wrote:
    A good point, but not entirely accurately stated. People into S&M aren't suffering in the same sense that people who we would say are genuinely suffering are. One of the important things a maker of BDSM stuff once said was that while yes you want to torture/inflict some degree of pain, you only want to do it in a very specific way at a specific level, under specific circumstances.
    What about ascetics? People who believe physical reality is evil and try to strip it away by starving and beating themselves? (Usually religious, I know, so maybe not appropriate for this discussion.)
    Ascetics either draw enough happiness from their suffering to offset it or believe (either correctly or incorrectly) that they would be worse off if they didn't physically suffer.

    Don't underestimate intangables in this kind of thing. The sense of smug satisfaction you get from helping someone and the relaxed feeling that you get from thinking that you are secure in some sort of afterlife are positives, and should be treated as such.

    One could actually argue that it is the duty of a utilitarian atheist to spread religion or some other kind of non-utilitarian morality, so that others may benefit from their associated intangables.

    jothki on
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    aesiraesir __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2007
    The golden rule is all ya really need imo.

    aesir on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    RandomEngy wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    Agreed. This new breed of atheist dickwad really makes me want to find religion.

    They're dicks because they say that religion is wrong and harmful, so therefore you should find religion? Is this like the teen smoking argument or something?

    i assumed he was being facetious.

    Loren Michael on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    aesir wrote:
    The golden rule is all ya really need imo.

    except where it concerns, for example, self defense.

    the golden rule is an excellent distillation of our ethical intuitions but it's not enough.

    Loren Michael on
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    Dynagrip wrote:
    I think I should start looking around for a good Catholic church in my area. The atheists of the forums are just too obnoxious to deserve my allegiance...
    Agreed. This new breed of atheist dickwad really makes me want to find religion.
    Is this in reference to anyone or anything in particular, or just generalized venom?

    Irond Will on
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    aesiraesir __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2007
    aesir wrote:
    The golden rule is all ya really need imo.

    except where it concerns, for example, self defense.

    the golden rule is an excellent distillation of our ethical intuitions but it's not enough.


    Thats not true. If I were to attack someone then I give someone the right to defend themselves. If I were attacked I'd want to defend myself. And if I were to attack someone, then they'd also have the right to defend themselves.

    aesir on
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    itylusitylus Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I think my "moral axioms" (which, as Jeffe pointed out, are assumptions that ultimately have to be somewhat arbitrary) are a bit different to anything else I've seen described here, so maybe there'll be some interest in them.

    They're not really mine, though... I've derived them mostly from my reading of Martin Buber, Raimond Gaita, and most recently, Iris Murdoch, so if you are interested, go back to the sources, since they say these things so much better than I do. (As for being atheist, I think Buber is a theist, Gaita is an atheist, and Murdoch... seemed to be either an atheist or an agnostic at the point she wrote "The Sovereignty of Good", I can't quite tell. Great book, btw, and reasonably short, too. Anyway, the "system" of ethics (if you can call it that) certainly doesn't require any religious element.)

    So, the framework adopted by all these people seems to rely, not on a set of pre-established criteria for what deserves ethical treatment and what does not, or what "ethical treatment" consists of or the like. Instead, the framework is based on relationships of "openness" or "attentiveness". Murdoch particularly talks about how she doesn't believe that "decisions" are made in a "moment of decision"; instead, over a long period of time, the quality of attention one has paid to the... situation, or people, or principles, involved in that decision, "emerges" or crystallises in some visible "event"; but the event itself is not really where the decision happens. Instead, it lies in all those prior, unseen, moments of thoughtfulness or thoughtlessness, attentiveness or inattentiveness. It's through being present to what is there that one finds what is "Good"; and she argues, more or less along the lines of Plato, that knowing what the Good is, makes it inevitable that one will do what is good. Buber says very similar kinds of things, in different language; for him the central principle is the I-Thou relationship (as opposed to the I-It relationship), in which one regards the other as a "Thou", as being... hmm, it's very difficult to summarise. Um. He kind of says that in the I-Thou relationship one feels one's own being is constituted through that relationship; or, one is so open to the other, that they kind of... well, I suppose in those Platonic terms, it becomes impossible to do evil by them.

    Probably the most relevant aspect of Buber here is his way of talking about "responsibility"; there can be no responsibility without genuine responding, he says. I think that's crucial to why this moral framework is so different to the Utilitarian framework and its variants. If you have a pre-given set of values or "moral principles", then you don't actually have to think about any moral dilemma you find yourself placed in; you just act on those principles. So you make a quick, unthinking, inattentive decision to do what is "obviously" "the right thing". Such decisions, for Buber, basically define what it is to be irresponsible.


    This post is already insanely long but I just thought I'd add something about Gaita... he says something really interesting about "supererogatory acts", which are basically acts that are so Good that they go beyond anything that could be considered a moral duty. No reasonable moral system could reasonably require the degree of self-sacrifice involved in a supererogatory act. Gaita says, accordingly, most moral systems regard them as a "epiphenomena" of morality; since they lie outside of what is required, and most moral systems focus on what we are required to do in a given situation, then what is "more than required" is outside of the central concerns of morality. Gaita argues that, on the contrary, that it is in bearing witness to supererogatory acts that we get some sense of what "Goodness" really means, and that these acts therefore are... in some way the soul of what morality is.

    itylus on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    itylus wrote:
    Probably the most relevant aspect of Buber here is his way of talking about "responsibility"; there can be no responsibility without genuine responding, he says. I think that's crucial to why this moral framework is so different to the Utilitarian framework and its variants. If you have a pre-given set of values or "moral principles", then you don't actually have to think about any moral dilemma you find yourself placed in; you just act on those principles. So you make a quick, unthinking, inattentive decision to do what is "obviously" "the right thing". Such decisions, for Buber, basically define what it is to be irresponsible.
    I think I disagree with this, if only because I do not think anyone's so-called "moral principles" are as stagnant as is implied in your writing. You arrive at your moral principles by the aforementioned processes, and call them your moral principles retrospectively when you try to qualitate on what basis you seem to act. And you may not like that, and work to actively change that basis - which people can and do. I know from my time on these forums that I have either crystallize some principles along a better and more rational definition or realized I am undecided on some and have re-examined them in favor of better and more rational ones.

    electricitylikesme on
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    itylusitylus Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    itylus wrote:
    Probably the most relevant aspect of Buber here is his way of talking about "responsibility"; there can be no responsibility without genuine responding, he says. I think that's crucial to why this moral framework is so different to the Utilitarian framework and its variants. If you have a pre-given set of values or "moral principles", then you don't actually have to think about any moral dilemma you find yourself placed in; you just act on those principles. So you make a quick, unthinking, inattentive decision to do what is "obviously" "the right thing". Such decisions, for Buber, basically define what it is to be irresponsible.
    I think I disagree with this, if only because I do not think anyone's so-called "moral principles" are as stagnant as is implied in your writing. You arrive at your moral principles by the aforementioned processes, and call them your moral principles retrospectively when you try to qualitate on what basis you seem to act. And you may not like that, and work to actively change that basis - which people can and do. I know from my time on these forums that I have either crystallize some principles along a better and more rational definition or realized I am undecided on some and have re-examined them in favor of better and more rational ones.

    I think I don't actually disagree with you here... I think in a sense Buber is just describing how most people who actually want to live in a moral way usually live, and contrasting it with the way that the ostensible "morality of the philosophers" operates; for them, the ostensible ideal is to have a perfected system of moral codification, which then supplies an "obvious right answer" to every moral quandary. Whereas Buber would say, that is not the ideal we should hope for or aim for; instead, we should hope to be able to achieve a kind of "deep attentiveness" which is active all the time. Of course, this is very difficult; most of us "switch off" a lot of the time, and even people who are "switched on" to a very unusual degree tend not to be switched on *all the time*. But I guess Buber's argument is about where the *foundations* of morality lie; according to a Utilitarian philosopher, having a perfected system of moral codification, and therefore being able to "switch off" all the time, is the ideal state because it is built on the strongest foundation. Whereas for Buber, it's exactly the opposite; and the person who is trying to develop a "completed" or "perfected" system of moral codification is actually moving (probably only very slowly, or probably only in theory rather than in practice, but still...) in the wrong direction.

    itylus on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    this works for me. when i mentioned sentience/cognizance earlier, it was a reference to whether something is capable of suffering or happiness or not. sentience is essentially the binary quality that indicates whether we have moral obligations towards something or not. once you're discussing suffering/happiness, the question of sentience has already been resolved.
    Well since I can't stand ot be agreed with, let me press the issue further: if you were to hold in your hand an object, whose qualities were nothing of sentience, no ability to conceive or communicate or experience or think, except for the sole quality of this object is that it has a button, and when you push that button, the object experiences horrible sorrow and pain, then I would tell you that I don't really care whteher or not sentience is involved, I don't care to debate whether the sorrow consitutes sentience or sentience is already resolved or whatever, I'm just saying that you better not push that button, because that would be really really immoral. The experience of pleasure and pain is even more fundamental than sentience. There may not be any known real-life situation in which the former can be separated from the latter, but I don't care.
    RandomEngy wrote:
    They're dicks because they say that religion is wrong and harmful, so therefore you should find religion? Is this like the teen smoking argument or something?
    Yeah, pretty much. I would kill a baby every time I hear someone give me that crap about the spaghetti monster, but that would be wrong. So instead I just wish that every time someone makes that argument, God converts another atheist to something devout, just to make sure that bullshit isn't successful.
    i assumed he was being facetious.
    Yeah, or that.
    Irond Will wrote:
    Is this in reference to anyone or anything in particular, or just generalized venom?
    Well, this whole Dawkins atheist revival that seems to be going on right now. My experience in the past has always been that atheists are usually very humble and resserved and quiet about their beliefs. With good reason, that shit will still get you hanged in some counties around here, I think. Regardless, such an attitude towards such beliefs (be they faith or lack thereof) is always preferred. But lately, this dickcheese fuckstick stuff going just makes me mad. Renouncing religion on YouTube, Penn and Teller's disgustingly smug sophistry, Dawkin's sophmoric arguments that I had already considered by the third grade, and so forth, it's just icky.

    Yar on
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    ShurakaiShurakai Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I believe morals come from rational decisions about how one wants to fit into this grand game of ethics and society.

    Even without a spiritual guideline, we are taught the ways of current ethic moral boundaries by our elders and peers.

    Should we choose to sidestep these boundaries, we are punished for it, hence it is in our best interest to comply.

    Shurakai on
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    Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    Irond Will wrote:
    Is this in reference to anyone or anything in particular, or just generalized venom?
    Well, this whole Dawkins atheist revival that seems to be going on right now. My experience in the past has always been that atheists are usually very humble and resserved and quiet about their beliefs. With good reason, that shit will still get you hanged in some counties around here, I think. Regardless, such an attitude towards such beliefs (be they faith or lack thereof) is always preferred. But lately, this dickcheese fuckstick stuff going just makes me mad. Renouncing religion on YouTube, Penn and Teller's disgustingly smug sophistry, Dawkin's sophmoric arguments that I had already considered by the third grade, and so forth, it's just icky.

    Moral of the story: people are assholes, and it doesn't really matter what they believe. Although I love Penn and Teller because they preach to my choir.

    Evil Multifarious on
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    GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Cato wrote:
    Is human life valuable?

    Who are you asking? And of whom?
    Cato wrote:
    How is human defined?

    Semantics.
    Cato wrote:
    Does this value impose an obligation on us?

    Only at the most fundamental level. Because humans are social animals, it stands to reason that if they could do that which is beneficial or advantageous to themselves without wronging another, they probably would. Most parents don't require society to feel it in their own interests to look after their children, for example.

    Glyph on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    this works for me. when i mentioned sentience/cognizance earlier, it was a reference to whether something is capable of suffering or happiness or not. sentience is essentially the binary quality that indicates whether we have moral obligations towards something or not. once you're discussing suffering/happiness, the question of sentience has already been resolved.
    Well since I can't stand ot be agreed with [troll. -L], let me press the issue further: if you were to hold in your hand an object, whose qualities were nothing of sentience, no ability to conceive or communicate or experience or think, except for the sole quality of this object is that it has a button, and when you push that button, the object experiences horrible sorrow and pain, then I would tell you that I don't really care whether or not sentience is involved, I don't care to debate whether the sorrow constitutes sentience or sentience is already resolved or whatever, I'm just saying that you better not push that button, because that would be really really immoral. The experience of pleasure and pain is even more fundamental than sentience. There may not be any known real-life situation in which the former can be separated from the latter, but I don't care.

    I dispute that the situation could logically exist. A mechanical reaction is just a mechanical reaction. Without some means (I call this cognizance, or sentience) of considering the desirability or undesirability of the action/feeling, it's not pain. According to my understanding, your object would necessarily need to be given a spark of some kind of consciousness before suffering could be considered such.

    Loren Michael on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I dispute that the situation could logically exist.
    Yeah I already noted this. "There may not be any known real-life situation in which the former can be separated from the latter." I don't care. Sentience isn't the key issue - sorrow and joy are.

    Yar on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I simply go by a blend of ethical egoism and altruistic hedonism.

    If it feels good, and doesn't fuck the world up, I do it, especially if it makes the people around me happy.

    If it feels bad, fucks up the world, or causes it for those close to me, I don't do it.

    Empathy and logic.

    Incenjucar on
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    GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Incenjucar wrote:
    I simply go by a blend of ethical egoism and altruistic hedonism.

    If it feels good, and doesn't fuck the world up, I do it, especially if it makes the people around me happy.

    If it feels bad, fucks up the world, or causes it for those close to me, I don't do it.

    Empathy and logic.

    Which is fine until people disagree on what will inevitably "fuck up the world" somewhere down the line.

    Glyph on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    I dispute that the situation could logically exist.
    Yeah I already noted this. "There may not be any known real-life situation in which the former can be separated from the latter." I don't care. Sentience isn't the key issue - sorrow and joy are.
    i'm still agreeing with you. it's just that sentience is the prerequisite for sorrow and joy to exist. there has to be some measure of consideration beyond action and reaction.

    EDIT: by "logically exist" i meant that it would be like arguing for the morality of square circles. it doesn't make sense, because it doesn't fit the defined parameters.

    Loren Michael on
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